Trump wants to join a trade agreement that no longer exists

Responding to concerns from the agricultural community, Trump today noted that he had instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to explore the US rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “…on our terms of course”.

The news either portrays the information in a positive manner, or skeptically,  noting the many criticisms Trump has made about the TPP in the past. Very few, though, report that there is no longer a TPP. The eleven other countries involved with the TPP moved on when Trump abruptly pulled the rug out from under the deal. They signed a new deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in March, 2018.

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From the tragedy of a mass shooting to a new hope for the future

“Shooting reported at school”

You read the words in Twitter and feel your shoulders drop, your head lower, and you don’t want to hear any more, but you want to hear everything.

The scenarios run through your head. “A teacher accidentally shot themselves in the foot.” “One kid was showing another a gun he found at home and it accidentally discharged.” “Troubled teen kills himself.”

“A shooter entered the school and killed several people using an AR-15 and a high capacity magazine.”

It’s almost overwhelming when you realize that you’re hoping you’ll read about some troubled kid killing him or herself, because you don’t want to read the alternative.  But it was not to be on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Be the finch

 

Think things are hopeless? That Republicans control it all?

I just saw a hawk flying straight towards my house, being chased by a dozen small finches.

Be the finch.

 

 

Trump Signs Executive Orders Reversing Dakota and Keystone Pipeline Decisions

Dakota pipeline protest

Trump has signed executive orders reversing President Obama’s administration’s decisions on both the Keystone and the Dakota pipelines.

The Dakota pipeline is currently under review by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on the route and alternatives. Trump can’t just upend this effort with an executive order—not without Earth Justice or other environmental organization easily being able to get an injunction against the order in court. I expect a court challenge against this exeutive order within a day

Unfortunately, Obama’s Keystone Pipeline decision could be more easily undone. The original State Department review of the Pipeline didn’t find it to be an environmental risk. Later, State found that the Pipeline would run counter to the US efforts to combat climate challenge, but this finding was based on cheap oil. Once the price of oil rises, to $65.00 a barrel or more, than this decision would no longer be considered viable. We could challenge a Keystone decision in court, but have less chance of success.

The claims about jobs associated with the pipeline are exaggerated. Yes, there will be construction jobs to build the pipelines, but, ironically enough, many of those jobs will most likely be filled by undocumented workers from Mexico. Construction is the second largest employer of undocumented workers in the US.

Once the pipelines are built, though, the number of jobs provided is tiny, measuring in the 100s, if that.

US energy costs won’t decrease, either, especially with the Keystone pipeline. Much of the refined gas, diesel, and jet fuel is likely to be exported out of the country.

What we will see are increased environmental costs. Companies are responsible for oil spills, but it’s uncanny how all too often, we taxpayers end up footing the bill for oil clean up. In addition, both pipelines are a major risk to drinking water, as well as vital aquifers for agricultural irrigation. Today, the Canadian government noted that one pipeline spilled 200,000 liters of oil in aboriginal land, following another major spill that shut off the supply of water to two major cities.

We’ll absorb the environmental damage, including the impact of the refining, yet only the oil companies will truly benefit.

Photo courtesy Fibonacci Blue CC BY 2.0

The Whitehouse.gov web site changes and the Transition Plan

snapshot of archived site

Several people have tweeted about how the climate change page is no longer posted to the whitehouse.gov web site. What they’re not aware of is that this change was planned starting last October.

First of all, whitehouse.gov reflects whoever is the occupant of the White House. Unlike the EPA or Department of Labor web sites, we shouldn’t be surprised to see sweeping changes during this transition.

The National Archives and Record Administration has archived the Obama’s web pages, as well as Barack and Michelle Obama’s official POTUS and FLOTUS twitter accounts. So the pages aren’t gone. What you see now is what Trump’s team has put together during the transition. The pages specific to the tenant are going to be different.

In addition, the non-profit Archive.org has preserved the Obama whitehouse.gov web pages, in addition to all government web pages. Yes, including the climate change page.

(If you’re feeling generous, Archive.org could use a donation to help with expenses.)

This web site change is part of the transition, and not unexpected. When we should be concerned is when we see pages disappear from sites like the EPA and the Department of Labor once Trump’s cabinet members have taken over the departments.